Our Something Old selection for June includes three of the books of Maria Montessori: The Formation of Man, Education for a New World and Education and Peace.
With so many families now dealing with education, we chose books for June with some amazing learnings. And, with so many people we know educating their children at home now and with plans to continue that practice, we thought it would be a good time to explore a pioneering educator, Dr. Maria Montessori.
These three small booklets are almost collectors’ items, but are still available on Amazon currently as part of the Clio Montessori Series. These are all written by her and published in 1955, 1946 and 1949, respectively.
Of course, there are many books available on what has become known as ‘The Montessori Method’ and you will see them on Amazon. These are special because they are her direct words, describing her journey to understanding and many of her conclusions, reached during her lifetime (1870 to 1952.) It is thrilling to hear her discuss her observations of and insights into children and her thinking in her own words.
You can almost hear her saying: “The purpose of this book is to expound and defend the great powers of the child, and to help teachers gain a new outlook which will change their task from drudgery to joy, from repression to collaboration with nature. Our world has been torn to pieces, and is in need of reconstruction …If salvation and help are to come, it is from the child, for the child is the constructor of man, and so of society. The child is endowed with an inner power which can guide us to a more enlightened future. Education should no longer be mostly imparting of knowledge, but must take a new path, seeking the release of human potentialities.”
She had rigorously studied the previous 200 years of thought and exploration of children and their education during her early years in Italy. She was a true pioneer for women as she earned advanced degrees and became a Doctor of Medicine in 1896, after facing innumerable challenges from her peers, from medical professionals and others who resisted the presence of women in the profession. At one point, the presence of a naked body for exploration was so troubling to the male students in one of her classes, that she was required to conduct her own study in isolation and after hours alone. To put this in today’s vernacular, ‘and yet she persisted.’
Her story is an amazing one and today we have approximately 20,000 Montessori schools globally, with roughly 5,000 in the USA. Of these 5,000, about 500 are nested inside public schools. There are many ways to teach using her methods at home and a good search of the internet will provide you with ways to use the Montessori methods at your own ‘home school.’
Even if you are not involved with home-schooling or prefer to explore this methodology, this book has amazing insights from Dr. Montessori, based on her studies and observation, about the abilities of the child…to grow and learn in the early months and years. Her strong and validated theories reflect such delightful insights into very detailed aspects of child development and growth. She would strongly caution against ‘helicopter parenting’ especially during the formative first four years of growth. Exploration and learning by discovery, properly monitored, was foundational to her fundamental over-arching theory.
Her pervasive belief in the strength of the child and the move to ‘spontaneous self-discipline’ with the proper approach, is alone, worth the read!